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American Flag

Happy 241st birthday, United States of America!

And, on that note, here are some patriotic-themed products I’ve seen on sale at various stores this summer.

Today is also an appropriate day for me to once again embed my animation, The March of Liberty, which was shown at Light City in Baltimore earlier this year. After all, it ends with the Statue of Liberty marching to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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Santa Claus Baby New Year

In the wake of the recent presidential elections that resulted in Donald Trump becoming the next President of the United States, there have been concerns about his antics, especially regarding his tweets on Twitter, where he has managed to piss off China and declared that the U.S. will be creating more nuclear missiles and possibly using them. There are concerns about how suitable he really is to occupy the Oval Office.

The Electoral College was scheduled to meet on December 19. Usually they tend to rubber stamp the results of the elections. This time a movement known as the Hamilton Electors sprang up and they were urging the Electoral College to reject Trump in favor of a more moderate Republican like Mitt Romney or John McCain. On December 19 these Hamilton Electors had called for rallies to be held in every state capital in the U.S. urging the Electoral College to reject Trump in favor of someone more moderate and with more experience than Trump. (Donald Trump is the first president-elect in history with no prior military or political experience.)

Since I live in Maryland the rally was being held in Annapolis. I had thought about going there to make a stand against Trump. But then I remembered that Hillary Clinton had swept Maryland in the elections so Maryland’s Electoral College delegates had already pledged to vote for her instead of Trump or another Republican. On top of it, it was a cold day and I was less enthusiastic about freezing to make a public stand against Trump when my state’s delegates had already committed to Clinton. So I decided to skip the rally altogether and do something fun instead.

My decision turned out to be a good one for two reasons: 1) the Electoral College decided to award the presidency to Trump anyway despite the Hamilton Electors movement and 2) I went to a place that I hadn’t been to in two years and it was nice to go there again.

I went to Valley View Farms in Cockeysville. It’s a long commute from the DC area but it’s so worth it because it has one of the most awesome Christmas shops anywhere in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. Here are some photos I took to show how awesome it is.

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And if you like these photos, check out photos I took of the same place in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Last summer Coca-Cola came out with these bottles that had specially printed labels that said “Share a Coke With [First Name of Person]”. These bottles appeared randomly in various stores. I took some photos of this special display at Target on the Fourth of July last year along with some of the bottles. At the time I complained that I didn’t find any bottles with my name on it.

This year the named bottles came back and I started seeing them as early as May. I even got lucky and found a bottle with my name on it.

A Named Coke Bottle

Throughout the spring and summer, I would take a look at some of these named bottles whenever I came across them in the stores. Whenever I saw a bottle that had a name of one of my friends on it, I would take a photo of it with my smartphone then tag that friend’s name in Facebook. Most of my friends got a kick out those photos, which was cool.

A Named Coke Bottle

A Named Coke Bottle

A Named Coke Bottle

A Named Coke Bottle

A Named Coke Bottle

A Named Coke Bottle

One of my friends, Nathan, mentioned that the Coke bottle with his name happened to be near another bottle with the name Mariah, which is his sister’s middle name.

A Named Coke Bottle

Coke Bottle With a Name on It

Coke Bottle With a Name on It

Coke Bottle With a Name on It

Coke Bottle With a Name on It

Coke Bottle With a Name on It

Coke Bottle

Coke Bottle

Coke Bottle

Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

A Coke Zero Named George

Vanessa Diet Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

Named Coke Bottle

For added measure, I even found a bottle that had my therapist’s first name. I would later give this bottle to her during our scheduled therapy sessions after I drank the contents first.

Named Diet Coke

But now this weekend is Labor Day Weekend, which marks the official end of summer and it’s also when this campaign is officially coming to a close. Like an old saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.”

Ever since Disney released Frozen last year, many of its songs have become popular, including “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

Well, some enterprising employees at the local Safeway came up with a unique way of building a snowman inside the store.

Soda Snowman

If you look close enough, you’d see that the snowman was constructed entirely out of soda cartons, specifically various Coke products. I have to admit that it’s a very interesting looking snowman.

Ramadan
I basically stayed home for the Fourth of July. With Washington, DC and so many other towns in my area putting on fireworks shows of their own I figured that the highways would be clogged with traffic so I decided to stay close to home. I was doing some web surfing and going through old things to see whether to keep them, donate them to charity, or try to sell them online then donate them to charity if I failed to sell.

I saw that the weather was sunny outside so I decided to go out for the heck of it. I found that the weather was warm, but not too hot, and the humidity was way down as well. Yesterday had to be the best Fourth of July in terms of weather in a long time. (Most other Fourth of July holidays tend to be very hot and humid.) I decided to take a stroll through Target where I found this display.

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This sign made it seem like there are now personalized bottles of Coca-Cola available in Coke, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero. Sure enough, there are personalized bottles of soda that one could buy for himself, herself, or for someone else. While some of the bottles were marked “Friends” and “Family”, the vast majority of them had a person’s first name on the labels. I even found one that had my ex-husband’s first name on it. (If I was still married to him, I definitely would’ve bought that soda for him. I think he would’ve gotten a kick out of it.) Sadly, I didn’t find any sodas with my name on it. Oh well. 😦

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I also found boxes of Crayola crayons on sale that were pretty funky. Someone at Crayola had this idea to sell boxes of crayons with different color palettes based on princesses, pirates, mermaids, and more. (Who knew that pirates and mermaids needed their own special color palettes?) When I was growing up, the choices between boxes of 8 crayons, 16 crayons, 24 crayons, 48, crayons, 64 crayons, 96 crayons, and 120 crayons. Choosing boxes of crayons based on what kind of things you want to draw and color seems so confusing to me, especially since I tend not to stick to only one or two subject matters in my art.

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After that trip to Target, I went back home where I ate dinner until it was time for me to go to the fireworks show nearest to my home. I found out via Facebook that some of my friends were not only going to the one by the shores of Greenbelt Lake but they were participate in this big drumming circle that was starting around 5:30 p.m. I’ve tended to avoid the pre-fireworks events in the past because of the high heat and humidity and they took place while the sun was still up. This year I decided to arrive early because of the low heat and low humidity. However parking was a bit of a hassle so I ended up parking near one of the back entrances to the park (where there were fewer cars because most other people were busy competing for spaces in the very crowded front). The downside is that it was at least a 20 minute walk from my car to the area of the park where my friends were gathering for the drumming circle. Even though I brought along this tiny bongo that I have at home, I missed the drumming circle by the time I got there. But I managed to run into a lot of my friends so I spent time socializing with them while taking a few pictures of Greenbelt Lake in the late afternoon sun.

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There was this band that started its set with “The Star Spangled Banner” and it played a variety of marching band music (mainly written by John Phillip Sousa).

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The next picture is of my small bongo that I purchased during my last trip to Florida in early 2011.  The drum head should be a giveaway as to where I purchased it. 😉

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At first I thought I had brought my bongo with me for nothing but I wasn’t too annoyed since it is a very small bongo. (One of the photos in this post should give you an idea as to how small this bongo really is.) But when that other band finished its set, an impromptu drumming jam session broke out and I was able to play my small bongo while I also took some photos whenever I wanted to give my hands a break from bongo playing.

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I even shot a short video of the drumming jam session. The drumming went on continuously until the first few seconds after fireworks started.

I took a lot of photos of the fireworks show, which I managed to whittle down to the ones that are posted below. I really enjoyed the show this year.

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